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A little over a year ago, I ran across an article in a local parenting magazine about paying kids for their performance at school. At the time, I thought it would be a great topic to discuss, so I cut it out and filed it away (by which I mean I threw it on my ever-growing “stack of stuff”) and lost track of it until last night. Now that it has resurfaced, I figured that I should write it up…
On the one hand…
Proponents argue that paying a child for grades, good behavior, or other accomplishments is no different than adults being paid to perform their daily jobs. Thus, paying kids for performance prepares them for the “real world” where you have to work for your rewards.
On the other hand…
Detractors argue that kids shouldn’t be paid to what they should be doing anyway. Thus, while kids should be encouraged to do their best, they shouldn’t be taught to expect a reward for simply doing what’s expected of them.
What’s our view?
My wife and I believe that kids (or at least our kids — we have four) shouldn’t be paid for things that they ought to be doing anyway. Thus, while we provide our kids with an allowance, we don’t tie it to academic performance, behavior, or chores around the house. We view the allowance as teaching tool that gives them an opportunity to learn about (and make mistakes with) money while the stakes are still low. But…
We don’t incentivize performance. Instead, we’d like for them to learn to be self-motivated, and to view success as a reward in itself. We want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because they’re getting paid.
All of this being said, we do give our kids a little something extra when they go above and beyond the call of duty. For example, when our eleven year old spent an afternoon crawling around under the house helping me make repairs, he earned some extra money. The distinction here is that certain things need to get done on a daily basis simply because you’re a part of the family, whereas other things are truly “work” for which you might otherwise expect to get paid.
What’s your view?
I’m guessing that this topic will stir up a diversity of opinions, and I doubt that we’ll arrive at one “right” answer. That being said, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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